Virgin Atlantic ends service to Japan


British airline Virgin Atlantic has ended its operations between Tokyo and London. The last flight between Tokyo and London left Narita on Sunday.

The airline, which has operated services to Japan for the past 25 years, said in a statement that these are highly competitive times for the airline industry and as part of its strategy to operate more efficiently, it needs to deploy it aircraft to routes with the right level of demand to be financially viable.

Virgin assured its Flying Club members that they can still travel between Tokyo and London with partner airline ANA.

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Will they come back for the Tokyo Olympics?

The big event that is supposed to stimulate business in Japan...

CitiBank on the way out too.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Why have they decided to stop direct flights from London, the flights always seemed to be full, this makes no sense to me.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Had flights booked for March with VA. Wasn't best impressed when I found out via Facebook that they decided to cancel the route. The fact that they didn't even bother to send out a email informing me of the cancelled route was the worst part of it all. Because they happily emailed me about a 5 minute change in departure time for a previous flight!

BA from now on though because I refuse to pay the expensive prices that ANA charge.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I was talking to a friend of a friend who was a pilot with a rival airline and he probably thought it was because Delta Airlines had bought the part of Virgin which was previously owned by Singapore Airlines and they wanted to concentrate on USA, hence a shift to bankrupt cities like Detroit.

A shame, because I quite enjoyed travelling with Virgin overall. Now one less competition.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The Delta connection IS where the answer lies it was in fact DL that pushed VS into canning some routes, the Japan - London route one of 3 or 4 that are being ended so they can concentrate on the LON - US East Coast routes.

Sucks because I used VS a lot on the freight side & know people that worked indirectly & are affected by this.

Sadly this route is toast thanks to some bean counters somewhere, it was profitable, they just think they can make more elsewhere.

Like big oil biz we are going to see more of this where businesses even though they may be profitable in Japan are going to disappear because the assets can be "better utilized"" elsewhere.

Sad day!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Less competition means higher fares to London. I think Virgin used an Airbus on the London-Tokyo route, not the 747 shown in the picture.

Delta wanted to use the Heathrow slots for flights to the US, that's the main/only reason they invested in Virgin.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Tokyo - London direct has always been expensive. Flying indirectly via e.g. Paris, Frankfurt or Seoul will save you lots of money with not too much inconvenience.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Christine, a full flight doesn't mean it's profitable. There are many numbers beside load factors that determine a flight routes profitability.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It'll be interesting to see if ANA increases capacity on the route between London and Tokyo to compensate for the ending of the Virgin Atlantic flight. Maybe with more flights using a combination of the 777-300ER and the 787-9 (once ANA gets more 787-9's)?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Why anybody with time would fly direct to London from Tokyo is beyond me. Much cheaper to stop off in Seoul, Hong Kong or Amsterdam.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Glad I use KLM, and I don't fly directly so prices are quite reasonable.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Turing their backs on loyal customers with only a couple of months notice is pretty poor. Recommending that said customers take their business to ANA (their partner) is fair enough - however not allowing us to transfer mileage to ANA miles (and not even willing to enter such discussions with ANA) is very poor form. I was told 'but you can continue earning and redeeming miles on other routes' - what use is that to me when I live in Japan? How often will one of your loyal Japanese customers be flying London to Chicago?

Pretty poor way to bow out Virgin. I haven't had a problem with them for the last 16 years. It makes sense reading comments regarding Delta having a hand in decisions.

A loyal Virgin customer for 16 years stuck with 90,000 miles.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In 1974 I flew Aeroflot Haneda-Rome-London-Haneda for 129,000 yen round trip. Of course 129,000 yen was more than I made in a month back then. But considering present-day fares, it's amazing how little prices have changed for cheap tickets over the past 40 years.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

The landing fees at Heathrow and passenger transport duties demanded by the UK for flights outside of Europe is what makes direct flights more expensive that transiting at Schiphol, Frankfurt/Main or CDG for example.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

it's a grotesque, unbelievable bizarre and an unprecedented move.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Pretty poor way to bow out Virgin. I haven't had a problem with them for the last 16 years. It makes sense reading comments regarding Delta having a hand in decisions. A loyal Virgin customer for 16 years stuck with 90,000 miles.

You should tell Richard Branson &co how you feel.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@zootmoney - Oh I have, don't worry about that!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

3 or 4 years ago I would recommend virgin; but not in the last 2 years, they have really gone downhill on the london tokyo route. If only Ana or Jal had a uk based credit card loyalty system like you can get in the US, then they would get my vote. Jal and Ana are in a different league to BA and would often be hit with the rude culture shock even at Narita leaving Japanese service standard behind even before you have left Japan.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I've been screwed by Branson before he started Virgin, he had a Branson air, he closed it, No warning while I was getting my return flight stranding me and hundreds at JFK overnight. anything that guys Name is attached too, I avoid

0 ( +1 / -1 )

however not allowing us to transfer mileage to ANA miles (and not even willing to enter such discussions with ANA) is very poor form.

Surely you're not thinking it was VA that wouldn't allow the transfer of miles, right? Your FF miles are recorded as a liability in the airline's books. VA would LOVE to transfer that liability to someone else (in this case, ANA). I imagine it is ANA that is telling VA, "Not only No, but HELL No!"

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Fadamor - I understand that. It raises 2 points though:

1) How is it right that a company can effectively escape its liabilities by simply leaving that market? It'd be like a language school leaving Tokyo to move to Seoul and telling its customers who still had lesson tickets 'No you don't get compensated because our company is still operating. If you want to use your remaining lesson tickets you can take classes in Seoul'. Virgin Atlantic Japan has ceased operations and as such all their Japanese liabilities should be settled reasonably. The options available to redeem earned miles are no longer reasonable.

2) Virgin have publicly endorsed ANA and recommended that its customers take their future business to ANA. Surely VA could have negotiated some kind of deal with ANA that allowed mileage exchange (80%, 75% etc) in exchange for their free endorsements.

It's simply a lack of foresight in terms of planning, and more importantly a complete disregard of their customers. I've learned that the 'loyalty' part of a 'loyalty card' only refers to the customer. The company should also show loyalty to their customers, and that loyalty should be reasonable i.e. if they are suddenly going to remove all their services from a market, and with it 99% of the ways to redeem earned mileage - they should be offering a reasonable alternative for how those miles can be redeemed. Sure it might cost them money to set up options / relationships / short term partnerships - but that's the cost of their actions in leaving the market.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

FF for ANA is a Star Alliance matter which ANA does not have much say to it since any ANA FF can also be transferred to any of the SA carriers. If Virgin is not a member the I do not think FF could be moved to ANA.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It just goes to show how unprofitable the Japanese - UK route has become for Virgin. The decision to close a route is based on operating costs and profit margins which have all but dried up here! Branson is canny enough to have acquired his own private island -he knows all about the bottom line......

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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